A Silent Voice vol. 2 – Yoshitoki Oima

4 out of 5

Leaps far ahead of the more questionable grounds on which the series started, and definitely looks forward to the skill Oima would show (on occasion) with some of the emotional plumblings of To Your Eternity.

Volume 2 of A Silent Voice switches our POV, looking at Shoya’s abuses from the perspective of Shoko’s protective sibling, Yuzuru, who firstly denies Shoya’s attempts at reaching out to her, and then actively lies to continue the separation. Oima flits back and forth between the playful humor of Yuzuru’s various gambits and showing us the continued guilt and confusion Shoya experiences from his past actions – a good mix of comedy and drama – and we thankfully get further context on Shoya’s intentions, which definitely mature the concept substantially. The mangaka’s abilities with clever cinematic visualizations also elevates some scenes – moments when Shoya bonds with a new school friend, and later on, when Shoko goes missing and Shoya and Yuzuru have to meet up to search for her; in both cases, the way Oima “cuts” around these sequences is really poetic, and makes the reader pay attention.

While I assume it’s purposeful, Shoko being, essentially, completely quiet in relation to us – she has not had the narrative yet – unfortunately simplifies her character down to a Moe type, rendering her part in proceedings a bit too “cute” thus far. Also, there’s a twist regarding Yuzuru that confuses me as to the overall point. I’ve seen similar twists in other manga / anime, so I’d be curious as to the cultural context that might inform this; it otherwise doesn’t serve any actual function in the story.

Still, this is the volume where I can more directly connect with the “heartwarming” descriptions of A Silent Voice, with some of its detractions feeling like purposeful affectations to be later strengthened, as opposed to just shortsighted storytelling.